I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Two sacrifices seem to be in view here: the body in verse one and the mind in verse two. We surrender these freely because God’s wisdom, power, and plan are immensely transcendent (Romans 11:33-36). We can entrust ourselves to his care.
1. The body
We present our bodies as a living sacrifice by the mercies of God. It is by his mercy, and by his mercy alone, that we can stand before him without fear of condemnation. Mercy makes the way to worship. Our ability to surrender, to give our bodies as an offering, is a gift. We are indebted to God’s mercies from the very start. These, remember, are God’s mercies – unfailing, unearned, undeserved. His mercy ought to humble us. We come to him in awe and wonder that we can even approach his majesty at all.
We present our bodies, our physical selves, these jars of clay. We, who were made by God’s hands and are even now sustained by his mercy, surrender our bodies to him as a living sacrifice. In sin, we foolishly claimed self-sufficiency. We believed we had no need of God. His wrath is revealed in the turning over of our bodies to the natural end of such rebellion (Romans 1:18-32). He, by his mercy through Christ, made a way for us to be realigned with him. As he works to remake us, our proper response is to relinquish control to the rightful owner. In reality, this means admitting that we are not really in control at all. I affirm this truth in theory, but I often deny it in practice. Thus, the imagery of sacrifice is fitting. We are to be living sacrifices, however. We resign our bodies to the Lord’s control. This is a daily practice, a necessary habit. Our flesh will always be looking for an opportunity to assert authority or control, so we must continually live as sacrifices to God, walking consecrated to the Lord. This is right for us who know him. We are thus holy and acceptable to God, only by his grace and mercy. Our acceptance is based on his goodness, not on our merit. So, our opportunity to know God, our ability to worship him, and our hope for alignment all lie in him. He made us, sustains us, saves us, and enables us to walk with him.
God, help me to live as a sacrifice. Take every feeling, every passion, every desire, every step, and purge them all in your name. I lay my body down. Do with it what you will. Let sanctification have its full effect over my appetites and actions until every aspect of my physical being is subject to Christ. My flesh is strong, but you are stronger.
2. The mind
Do not be conformed to this world. The majority may agree on values and goals, and we may easily fall in line with its agenda. The verbs here are in the middle/passive, meaning we are not the active agents here. We will be molded by something. Our choice is in what will influence us. The world vies for our minds. In sin, it already has them. But God, rich in mercy, renews our minds as we surrender to him. We must submit our minds to the Lord for renewal, thereby being transformed from what we were into what we now are. This transformation is for a purpose. By being transformed by the Lord instead of being conformed to the world, we are able to discern God’s will, thereby ordering our steps. This means that the transformation of the mind leads to the transformation of the body; the sacrifice of the mind furthers the sacrifice of the body.
God, help me to surrender my mind and my body to you. I feel the flesh’s influence on me, drawing me toward the ways of rebellion and sin. Take all of me, God. Take everything. I don’t naturally desire surrender, but this is itself reason to pursue it. God, have your way in me. Purge me. Sanctify me. Let me be a living sacrifice in every aspect, all for your glory.